Mapping Atomic Motions with Ultrabright Electrons: Realization of the Chemists’ Gedanken Experiment Physics Colloquium

Date: Time: 3:30 pm–5:00 pm
Jorgensen Hall Room: 136
Contact: Amanda Lager Gleason, 402-472-9223,
Presented by R. J. Dwayne Miller, The Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging and the departments of chemistry and physics, University of Toronto.
Host: Herman Batelaan

One of the dream experiments in chemistry has been to watch atomic motions on the primary timescales of chemistry. This prospect would provide a direct observation of the reaction forces, the very essence of chemistry, and the central unifying concept of transition states that links chemistry to biology. This experiment has been referred to as “making the molecular movie”. Due to the extraordinary requirements for simultaneous spatial and temporal resolution, it was thought to be an impossible quest and has been previously discussed in the context of the purest form of a Gedanken experiment. With the recent development of ultrabright electron sources capable of literally lighting up atomic motions, this experiment has been realized (Siwick et al. Science 2003). The first studies focused on relatively simple systems. Further advances in source brightness have opened up even complex organic systems and solution phase reaction dynamics to atomic inspection.

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